Barbie is not just blonde

Barbie is not just blonde

For about the first seven years of my life, I lamented and moaned about my parents depriving me of having a Barbie doll.  Yes, I am probably one of the few girls who never actually owned one and had to get my Barbie fix whenever I went to play at friends’ houses.  It wasn’t until I was 14 that I got my first Barbie as a sort of inside joke and it had on a gold brocade outfit made by my friend.  However, the Barbies I grew up with and knew of from Argos catalogues had 80’s t-shirts that said ‘Cool’ on them with Hawaiian print leggings or had hair that ‘magically’ changed colour in the water.  Come September at the world famous Christie’s auction house however, Barbie collectors will ooh and aah over an altogether different kind of Barbie.  Ietje Raebel will be auctioning her collection of 4000 barbies collected from the early 60’s to the present which will be the biggest private collection ever to be sold at auction. 

Amongst her collection are Barbies that I never thought even existed.  Roman Holiday Barbie?  Sorbonne Barbie?  These aren’t Barbies that reflect 80’s love for all things Malibu but rather an accurate depiction the of fashion and social circumstances when they were produced.  Dior inspired dresses, Balenciaga cuts, Pucci’s palazzo pyjamas, Bob Mackie’s Cher-inspired costume designs were all modelled by Barbie.  Sorbonne Barbie obviously was born out of the student rioting that was going on in 1960’s France and Italy.  Judging from the Barbie website of the present, the fashion we are reflecting is a world where style are classed as ‘Funky & Fab’, ‘Sporty & Stylin’, ‘Preppy & Pretty’ and last but not least ‘Sweet and Sparkly’.  Oh how we have regressed….. 

The sale is on 26th September at Christie’s, London and will and on view on the 23rd September.  Pictures and accompanying article from the Telegraph.

Barbie Babysits 1963 // Roman Holiday Barbie 1959

Solo in the Spotlight Barbie 1960 // Sorbonne Barbie 1967

Gay Parisienne Barbie 1959 // London Tour Barbie 1966 & Poodle Parade Babie 1965 (the one that started off Ietje’s collection)


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  1. Sasha

    2006-08-01 at 8:52 AM

    I think it’s funny that older Barbies have even stranger proportions than modern versions… They have much smaller feet and much larger chests than their recently molded counterparts.

  2. DJM

    2006-08-01 at 9:10 AM

    I wonder if that’s why you love dressing up so much now Susie, as you were deprived of the sheer delight of dressing up a Barbie! When you’re a little girl, there’s nothing quite like it. I used to make all sorts of clothes for my Barbie.

  3. k

    2006-08-01 at 11:01 AM

    Love the glasses on Barbie Babysits.
    A few years ago I went to a Barbie’s exposition in Praha. One of the most interesting things was that the first Barbie wasn’t blonde. There were also so many dolls that had never been sold to the crowd and made with the most incredible themes.
    It’s funny how crazy I was for Barbies when a little girl and how unnatractive they seem nowadays with all the new dolls out there.

  4. fifteenfish

    2006-08-01 at 12:14 PM

    i’ve always loved barbie, and when i was small i had a huge collection (i have always desperately wanted an asian barbie). barbie’s been round long, unlike BRATZ, blergh… disgusting pieces of work. can’t stand them. =_=”

  5. Joanne

    2007-03-08 at 9:15 PM

    hello, just looking for some feedback really – was wondering if any of you are actually fans of barbie and the image that she epitomises? i am studying icons and she is the focus of my project. would be great for a response, thanx, jo!

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